Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

Illusions of Competence for Phonetically, Orthographically, and Semantically Similar Word Pairs

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

Illusions of Competence for Phonetically, Orthographically, and Semantically Similar Word Pairs

Article excerpt

Illusions of competence are thought to arise when judgements of learning (JOLs) made in the presence of intact cue-target pairs during study create a "foresight bias," such that JOLs are inflated by the apparent association between a cue and a target, despite the lack of benefit this association has for recall performance. For example, Castel, McCabe, and Roediger (2007) recently demonstrated an illusion of competence for identical word pairs (mouse-mouse). In two experiments, the authors examined possible sources for this overconfidence, including phonetic, semantic, and orthographic similarity. An illusion of competence was found for homophones, synonyms, orthographically similar, and unrelated items, whereas no illusion of competence was found for word pairs with a relatively high forward-semantic association. Self-paced study times indicated that encoding fluency was not closely associated with the magnitude of overconfidence. Error data revealed participants may have been engaging in strategic responding in order to maximise correct recall. Our results underscore the importance of considering factors that influence both JOLs and recall performance when considering sources of (mis)calibration in absolute accuracy.

Keywords: judgments of learning, cued-recall, metacognition

An important aspect of memory monitoring involves the ability to assess one's own progress in learning (Nelson & Narens, 1990). One way of measuring accuracy in memory monitoring is to make judgements of learning (JOLs) for recently learnt material. In the immediate-JOL procedure, participants are typically presented with a list of paired associates to study for a later cued-recall test. After each word pair is presented, participants estimate how likely they think it is that they will remember the second word later, when cued with the first word (e.g., 0% = definitely will not remember to 100% = definitely will remember). These judgements are then compared with actual recall performance, and discrepancies between JOLs and recall are often interpreted as reflecting poor memory monitoring. Of importance, dissociations between JOLs and recall are also considered to provide insight into the underlying bases for making JOLs and into metamemory processes more generally.

Much attention has recently been directed to understanding the source of over- and underconfidence when comparing mean JOLs with the percentage of items recalled (e.g., Castel et al., 2007; Koriat, Sheffer, & Ma'ayan, 2002). The impetus for much of this research has stemmed from Koriat' s (1997) cue-utilisation model, which proposes that JOLs are heavily influenced by intrinsic and mnemonic cues, induding associative relatedness (Carroll, Nelson, & Kirwan, 1997; Connor, Dunlosky, & Hertzog, 1997; Dunlosky & Matvey, 2001) and encoding fluency (Begg, Duft, Lalonde, Melnick, & San vito, 1989; Hertzog, Dunlosky, Robinson, & Kidder, 2003; Koriat & Ma'ayan, 2005). With respect to overconfidence, illusions of competence are thought to occur when JOLs made in the presence of intact cue-target pairs during study create a foresight bias or an illusion of competence, such that JOLs are inflated by the apparent association between a cue and a target by a magnitude much greater than the true benefit the association has for recall performance (Koriat & Bjork, 2005, 2006a, 2006b). For example, Koriat and Bjork (2005) demonstrated that cue-target parrs that were either weakly related (e.g., clean - soap) or had a strong backward, but not forward, association (e.g., cats - kittens) received JOLs that were significantly higher than the actual proportion of words recalled.

More recently, Castel et al. (2007) demonstrated an illusion of competence for identical word pairs (e.g., lamp - lamp). Castel et al.'s procedure was similar to Koriat and Bjork's (2005) in that their study list comprised of an equal number of strongly related, weakly related, and unrelated word pairs. …

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